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The homecoming of Samuel Lake : a novel by…

The homecoming of Samuel Lake : a novel (edition 2011)

by Jenny Wingfield

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3298633,583 (4.14)1 / 28
Title:The homecoming of Samuel Lake : a novel
Authors:Jenny Wingfield
Info:New York : Dial Press, 2011.
Collections:Wishlist, Odds Are
Tags:tloeffler, fiction

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The Homecoming of Samuel Lake: A Novel by Jenny Wingfield


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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I did not find this book as wonderful as others have, it was well written but I could not stay interested in it. The characters were strange and I did not find them endearing. There was much more darkness than I was expecting based on the descriptions of the book I had heard. Overall, I found it to be a depressing book.

I received a copy of this book through the Library Thing Early Reviewer program. ( )
  Jamilyn | Jan 21, 2014 |
A bit slow in the middle but quickly speeds up. Beautiful writing, characters and story. The twists are amazing. ( )
  Rebecca_Hail | Aug 22, 2013 |
Every time I thought I knew what this book was about and where it was heading, the story took another twist. The characters were very human- some were likeable, some were not, but they were all real and three-dimensional. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoy's John Irving's work. ( )
  Maggie.Evans | Aug 1, 2013 |
I listened to the audio version, and liked this story of Samuel Lake (a preacher without a church) and his family and their surroundings, including an evil neighbor and his children. The reading (Catherine Taber) is suberb. ( )
  DavidO1103 | Jun 12, 2013 |
Originally reviewed here. P.S. I'm giving away a copy there until the eleventh.

For the most part, I'm a fairly eclectic Reader of Fictions. I pretty much love at least some examples of most types of fiction. Still, I definitely have ones that I try to avoid as much as possible, and that I retain a bit of a prejudice towards. I'm not particularly proud of that, but that's the truth. I entered a blind giveaway hosted by Random House for one of their big summer titles. I won. Imagine my disappointment/trepidation when the book arrived (two copies, even). I open up the package and find The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. When I look it up on Goodreads, I see that this book resides, at least according to the community on Goodreads, in two of my most feared genres: Christian fiction and southern fiction.

Even coming from this seriously skeptical place, I really enjoyed The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. I had been debating just giving it away, but I knew within the first page that I would definitely be reading the whole book. Judging off of genre can be a very dangerous habit, because it's such a narrow designation. Some books are completely their genre, but others, like this one, do have those elements, but are so much more.

Though there is a lot about faith in The Homecoming of Samuel Lake, and I think Christian readers would perhaps enjoy it, I think calling it Christian fiction is somewhat unfair, or, perhaps, it is simply different than what I have thus far encountered. Not all of the characters in THoSL are Christian, both good and bad people. The title character is a preacher, but the book wasn't about him so much as the whole Moses/Lake clan.

Although the book definitely has a summer feel to it, perhaps because there's never much discussion of schooling or of traditional employment, THoSL tackles dark subject matter, primarily that of spousal and child abuse, although rape, murder and infidelity are also big themes. The abuser, Ras Ballenger, is one of the most purely evil characters I have encountered in fiction. He abuses his wife, his son, and the horses he trains for other people. I cannot overstate how entirely awful he was. What a rat bastard.

The characters and their relationships in the book are just wonderful. The whole Moses house seriously just brimmed with life. I adored all of the games the kids played out in the field, how seriously they were taken and how true to life they were. The various issues encountered in the different marriages also struck me as so true to life. It was also so incredibly beautiful how the Moses family came together in crisis situations, despite disagreements.

My last main point that I must make about THoSL is that the writing is utterly lovely. Wingfield manages to write in a style that has a bit of a southern flair WITHOUT resorting to dialect. Part (perhaps up to 99%) of my distaste for southern fiction is that I hate books written in dialect, and so many are. The characters do speak in dialect, some of them, but that's the extent of it. That totally worked for me.

So, here's what I have to say to you, give this book a chance if you like family pieces full of sassy children and familial love, even if, like me, it doesn't sound like the sort of book you'd ordinarily pick up. If you pass this one by because of genre concerns, you will be missing out.

( )
1 vote A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
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Book description
A bewitching debut novel in the vein of the much-loved classic Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe. It's 1956 and Samuel Lake, a handsome preacher, is voted out of his ministry by yet another congregation, disappointed by his relentless pleas for them to live more charitable lives. Out of options and out of pocket, Samuel and his family are forced to move in with their Arkansas in-laws, the rambunctious Moses clan. At first they thrive in the unruly sea of relatives -- Willa, Samuel's wife, runs the bar for Grandma Calla, while the boys, Noble and Bienville, run riot through the surrounding countryside. But when Swan, their formidable but loveable 11-year-old tomboy, crosses the path of neighbour Raz Ballenger, things take a turn for the worse. Raz Ballenger, horse trainer, is a man who rules both his family and his animals through terror. Used to instant obedience, he is insulted when Swan leaps to his son's defence, an act that sets a whole chain of unexpected and terrible events into motion!
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The rigid moral codes held by mid-twentieth-century preacher Samuel Lake are called into question when his twelve-year-old daughter and his neighbors hide a young boy from his abusive father, a man who lashes out at the community when he learns about thedeception.… (more)

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